Uncle Giorgos is Mikalis’s elderly uncle, and lives below the olive grove in Paleohora. Most conversations with him involved shouting back and forth across the olive fields, so it was weeks before we actually met him in person.
As it turns out, the ferry going to Athens that day was cancelled due to rough seas, and we saw him running to catch a plane instead (which he also missed, because he was still in the Magganitis cafe a day later, eating salt fish and drinking tsipouro (very strong pomace brandy).
Mikalis lives right next to the sea, and loves to have coffee every morning on his patio underneath his fig tree. He describes it as “parathissos,” the Greek word for “paradise.”
Mikalis is retired, like most of the people who live in Magganitis year-round. Younger people must move to Athens, America, or elsewhere in order to find work, and can only visit Ikaria during the summer months when they have vacation. Many of the retired people who live here now spent decades of their lives in mainland Greece or America in order to earn money, and are now enjoying the relaxed lifestyle of the island in their old age.
The meal includes a ziti-like meat casserole, savory pumpkin and greens pasties, and cabbage salad. Once again, when I tell Athina there is too much food on my plate, she doubles it.